England stumble to second Women’s World Cup defeat as West Indies triumph in thriller | Women’s Cricket World Cup

England’s chances of defending their World Cup title have drastically diminished after losing their group stage match to West Indies by seven points, in a hard-fought battle.

At 156-8 in 35 overs, chasing 225, England looked down, but a club-record 61 ninth-wicket partnership between Kate Cross (27) and Sophie Ecclestone (33) brought them awfully close. It was non-spinner Anisa Mohammed who finally dimmed their hopes, putting her fingers on the ball to wear Cross down as she pulled back in the 48th, before neatly throwing Anya Shrubsole three balls later to finish the job.

For the West Indies, a 123-run fifth-wicket partnership between Shemaine Campbelle (66) and Chedean Nation (49 not knocked out) proved crucial, while Hayley Matthews – who scored a century in the opening game of his side – contributed with 45 runs and the key wickets of Heather Knight and Nat Sciver, as England were out for 218.

After losing to Australia in their opening match, England now face an uphill battle to progress to the semi-finals, while West Indies have become the unlikely challengers for the title, having also beat hosts New Zealand on Friday.

“We obviously made it difficult for ourselves, but we’re not out of this World Cup yet,” Knight said after the game. “We can’t dwell on it too much. We have to take things out of the game that we can do much better and make sure we focus on the next one.

“This next game is crucial for our World Cup hopes. I hope it will hone people in, because right now we are fighting for our lives in this tournament.

England’s pursuit was nervous from the start, after Lauren Winfield-Hill got off to an early start thanks to a spectacular catch from Deandra Dottin, diving deep to her left to snatch the ball in the air at the backseat. Matthews, introduced in the 10th, then had Knight taken after a referee’s review for a stump showed an unexpected spike on Ultra Edge, before Sciver hit her straight down the halfway mark.

Tammy Beaumont, who had been taken down by Mohammed at the slip in single digits, fought her way to 46 from 76 balls, but the bowler claimed revenge on the 26th, trapping her front leg. Danni Wyatt (33) and Sophia Dunkley (38) combined for a 60-point partnership, but when the two fell within three balls of each other it was left to the finalists to le remove.

“We back our tail,” Knight said. “Sophie [Ecclestone] worked so hard on his stick. It was very quiet, they kept it very simple and just tried to tick it all off. The way they played was exceptional and showed a real fight.

West Indies Shamilia Connell plays under the watchful eye of England’s Tammy Beaumont. Photograph: Sanka Vidanagama/AFP/Getty Images

Earlier, West Indies had gone 81 unbeaten in the opening 20 overs but were cut to 98-4 by Ecclestone, who claimed three-for-20 figures. Matthews missed a third-man catch in the 21st over, while only four balls later, captain Stafanie Taylor edged out for a brilliant one-ball duck that shot a mile.

Meanwhile, Dottin (31) was hit hard by Wyatt, who sprinted from cover to throw the stumps at the striker’s end and chased the Barbadian away. Wyatt followed that up with a good hold from cover, to give Ecclestone his third.

Campbelle and Nation, however, staged a rebound, helping West Indies to a tasty 47 runs from the final five overs after England squandered several chances to break the partnership – Shrubsole putting Campbelle down twice at third man court , while Amy Jones fumbled an exit .

“We struggled to take wickets,” admitted Knight. “We were clear on our plans and we just didn’t quite execute sometimes.”

It followed three previous chances that had been begging: Matthews was dropped twice, in five and 33, while England lost the chance to see Dottin on the very first innings ball when Winfield-Hill bombarded a leading edge under cover. After treating the ball like a hot potato, England will ruin what could have been, as they look down the barrel ahead of their next game against South Africa on Monday.

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